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Gisèle B.


by Paule V.4.jpg (350×232)



Basic information

Gisèle B. is French, born in 1942 in a small town of < 1,000 inhabitants, where she spent her childhood; primary school until the certificate, then attended a "household school”. Nowadays, she lives in a municipality of 12,000 inhabitants on the outskirts of a medium-sized town. Was a hospital worker.




Childhood and adolescence

Is the eldest of a family of 3 children: a brother (5 years younger) born in 1947, a sister born in 1950. Her parents were of peasant origin, and for several years, due to insufficient resources which had to be supplemented, were seasonal agricultural workers. They would for Beauce (4 to 500 hundred km from Brittany), to cultivate and harvest beetroot. During these periods, over 5 years, she was entrusted to her paternal grandmother whom she always had a very strong bond with. She even found it hard to share this grandmother with her brother, sister and cousins. She doesn't know what her grandfather's job was (she assumes a farm worker).


When her parents bought a farm, it was near a large village; the family moved there.She started working at the age of 14 in a grocery store where she did a bit of everything: the shop, the cleaning, the laundry: she would take the wheelbarrow and the beater to the river and boil the laundry. She would only be offon Sunday afternoon when she could cycle home, several kilometers away. Her grandmother, who had had 9 children, would spend a month with each of her children. For G it was a great joy, a little less for his mother, who was very independent. The old people participated in lots of little things; she remembers her great uncle and great aunt whom she felt them happy.


"There was no money"...for example, for school sports competitions, to buy an item of clothing, an outfit, wecould not always participate; when a calf was born, the parents would remind the attention and the care which had to be given to it, because on its sale depended the purchase of seeds for the harvests of the following year.


"But in the countryside, for the most part, we did not lack anything." The food came from the land and for the rest there was a great conviviality. The work was done jointly, threshing, hay, planting; when the pig was killed, the whole village was there.... She liked the atmosphere. There were evenings "spinning" with chestnuts, baked apples, we played cards, we "launched" the song. Her mother, a woman of character, had a beautiful voice.

We lived on clay, without a toilet and bathroom. We had electricity, but we didn’t have water until 1956

Adulthood until retirement

She married and followed her husband, a telephone employee transferred to the Paris area before returning to Brittany. They had 2 children. She worked at a greengrocer’s and as a housekeeper, then as a hospital worker. Had a happy childhood and adulthood. The religious aspect, Mass on Sunday, was present but it was not binding.




Has a first general reflection on the evolution of things: “Our generation had nothing, we went for the better... but we went too far. Modernize yes, but too quickly and too far... we made mistakes. Basically, for many things are not getting any easier: it’s sad, ugly “!


Cycling, yes, but to be presentable and / or to risk staying wet all day long, itis a problem! For me personally I think “make way for young people”but I do not appreciate that they take us for the well-off, that they find that the ecological problems are our fault. Of course they fear for their retirement pensionwhen we touch it naturally... but we were at work much earlier and with everlasting weeks.


Has been widowed for several years. Has a friend whom she shares weekends and holidays with, but otherwise lives on her own, in her home, where friends and former coworkers pass regularly. With the family, very good understanding: holidays together, and visits or stays of grand-children, which she appreciates so much. But again, everyone at one’s home.


Economic situation

Receives a sufficient pension, especially since she receives ½ pension from her husband. “When you’ve always been careful, there is no change with active life. But there are people for whom pensions are too low”.


Health situation

Good health. A few years ago,had a hip replacement which might have to be repeated: has good health and mutual coverage.



Reading, television, walking, gymnastics, cycling, swimming in summer when the weather is nice, coffee with girlfriends to “do make small talk”, traveling... but does not belong toany group or association, her key word is “I do what I want, where I want, when I want" Helping: yes! But in an institution or an association, no! "I love being free".


Digital is not her thing.“We have to, but I am not keen on it, I do not like it".


Retirement has been great so far.


Role of retirees

Transmitting knowledge, traditions, what we have learned,explain, yes : they will get what they want from it.Seeing little children grow up, evolve, it's good. I had never imagined retirement before... I enjoyed working, I had fun going there but on the day of retirement I thought: phew, it's over now we're going to do something else."


Enjoyed equally the 3 times of herlife.